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Bill Bailey joins our call to get active to tackle plastic

The Trust and Strictly Come Dancing winner Bill Bailey are calling on people across England & Wales to boost their health and happiness and make a difference in their local communities at the start of 2021 by joining the fight against plastic pollution.

Comedian Bill Bailey stands on paddle board on the canal with a pile of plastic collected from the water

Canals and rivers have been havens for mental and physical health during the pandemic, with more weekly visits to local towpaths since last March in many urban areas. However, this has been accompanied by a rise in littering, up 68% in 2020, putting the nation's precious waterway wildlife habitats at risk and causing an unsightly problem.

By combining a Plastics Challenge litter pick with their local daily exercise people can help stop 14 million pieces of plastic and litter from entering the canals and rivers each year.

Celebrity support

We have teamed up with Bill Bailey and other celebrities including Deborah Meaden, Eamon Holmes, Saira Khan, Helen Glover, Nicola Thorp, to share this important message and encourage people to get involved this month. The Wombles characters, who famously help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in creative ways, are also supporting the campaign with a short animated film.

The Wombles

Strictly Come Dancing winner, comedian and keen paddle boarder, Bill Bailey, said: “Plastic is a huge issue and it's only going to take a massive effort of will to make an impact. If everyone gets involved by doing a little bit when they are out on the towpath, we can make a significant difference, catching it at source before it floats out to sea. Please join the Canal & River Trust's Plastics Challenge to help make your local canal a place all of us can enjoy.”

Making a positive impact on the environment

It's not just famous faces that feel passionately about the issue. Mother and daughter Jacqui and Jaime from Hemel Hempstead started plogging, a combination of jogging and picking up litter as a way to spend time together, exercise and have a positive impact on their local environment. Jaime is passionate about making a difference when it comes to plastic pollution.

“Running along the canal together is a great way to get away from it all and take some time without the day-to-day distractions of work and school,” said Jacqui, “Despite the plastic and litter the canal is still a beautiful place to come and have a run and we just clean it as we go. It's very satisfying to know that we've helped the environment whilst out for a jog.”

It is incredibly simple to take part in Plastics Challenge, which is supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery. Paddle board pros, reluctant runners, sunrise strollers and wildlife wanderers can combine these activities with a litter pick. Individuals can pledge their support for the Plastics Challenge on our website.

Our towpaths provide valuable green space in the heart of many communities and remain open so that people can enjoy exercise and being in the outdoors, close to nature close to home.

Support our Plastics Challenge

To make a pledge to support our Plastics Challenge, visit or follow us on social media @CanalRiverTrust #PlasticsChallenge

Thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery the Canal & River Trust has recently received support from its Postcode Climate Challenge initiative. This will go to support the charity's Plastics Challenge and have an impact in helping to reduce plastics in our waterways.


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Last Edited: 15 January 2021

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